Voters decided today that it will be Conservative Zac Goldsmith facing Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the election for Mayor of London in 2016.
As of this morning, we knew only two things about Zac Goldsmith.
Put those two things together and you have a pretty awkward work situation on your hands. Moving on.
This wasn’t really good enough – seeing as our job is to break it all down simply so no one else has to. We’ve spent the day enlightening ourselves on why we have a mayor in the first place, what they’ve done for us in the past and what these two fresh mayoral candidates are offering.
Why do we have mayors?
City mayors didn’t exist in the UK, at least not the kind we actually vote for, until the year 2000. We have had Lord Mayors for hundreds of years, and that’s a whole different heap of old-timey crazy.
Since the year 2000, local authorities have been able to ask their residents whether or not they would like to have an elected mayor.
This was part of a decision to devolve powers to local government.
Devolution is a fancy word meaning the transfer of powers and responsibilities from central government in London to local authorities all over the UK – like if your mum put you in charge of some rabbits, and you had to make sure they all had fairly nice hutches but you also had to make sure the rabbits didn’t build any more hutches without your permission, make sure they can all get around to their rabbit-jobs efficiently and don’t commit too many rabbit-crimes.
Basically, a mayor is the head of a local authority who take over government responsibilities like housing and planning, waste and environment management, transport, policing, and economic growth. Did the rabbit thing make that any easier to understand?
If town residents vote in favour of having an elected mayor – which is what happened in London, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Lewisham, North Tyneside, Salford, Torbay and a bunch of other places – then the next step is to actually elect one.
In London, Labour’s Ken Livingstone was elected mayor for the first eight years, followed by Conservative and love-hateable maniac Boris Johnson for the next eight years.
Changes are a-coming, though. Come 2016 the London Mayor won’t be Ken or Boris but will either be Zak or Sadiq. It sounds like the lads from One Direction are taking over City Hall. There are other candidates from other parties, but TBH nobody expects them to get a look in.
Whoever is elected London Mayor in 2016 can expect a salary similar to a cabinet minister – currently just over £140,000.
What have mayors ever done for us?
The stuff brought in by the last two London mayors is actually stuff Londoners use every day.
Trying to cut down on London’s carbon emissions, Ken Livingstone introduced the congestion charge requiring road users in Central London on week days.
He also introduced the Oyster card and made it possible for same-sex couples to register their partnership. This last initiative paved the way towards UK-wide civil partnerships. Woop.
Boris Johnson banned alcohol on London transport – and there was a big party the night before this law came into effect.
He also completed Ken’s plan of introducing a public cycle hire scheme of 5,000 bikes across London – known as Boris bikes.
Bo-Jo also set up the Outer London Fund, offering a pot of money up to £50m to help create better local high streets.
Who will be our next mayor?
One of these two gents.
Sadiq Khan is Labour MP for Tooting, and won 59% of the vote which took place in tandem with the Labour leader selection. The ballot included full members of the Labour party, registered supporters and affiliated sections (trade unions and the like). Khan managed to win a decisive majority across all three of these sections.
Zac Goldsmith is Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and won 70.6% of the vote in a ballot which any Londoner over 18 could vote in for £1.
What issues are they pushing forward?
They’re both ploughing right in with housing and green policies as top of their agenda.
Both are bothered about swollen house prices pushing regular Londoners out of their own city – with this creating a divided and unequal situation like Paris or New York where the rich live in the centre and the poor live at the fringes.
Zac says we need to build more houses and change the way we build them.
Sadiq says we need to make sure Londoners get ‘dibs’ on new houses and backs a ‘London Living Rent’ which would see a certain number of properties in any new build charging rent equal to a third of the average wage in the area.
They’re both serious environmentalists. Both completely oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport and put improving green spaces and the air Londoners breathe at the top of their if-elected to-do lists.
One thing they disagree on is the building of the Garden Bridge Boris Johnson has planned, which Sadiq Khan reckons is too hefty a cost on the public wallet. Zak reckons it’s OK. Woah guys this is way too much drama.
It’s mega early days, but right now the two candidates don’t seem all that different. At least in the sense that they’re focusing on exactly the same problems.
To be fair, though, seeing as nearly 10,000 die each year in London because of air pollution and mental London house prices being twice the national average, neither candidate could really ignore these things.
The difference will probably be in how they tackle these issues. Again, though, early days.
Spot the difference
There are for sure lots of differences between these two guys. The BIGGEST difference is their backgrounds.
Sadiq Khan, was the son of a bus driver and seamstress, grew up on a south London council estate and slept in a bunk bed at his parents’ house while he trained to be a lawyer.
Zac Goldsmith is son of aristocracy, inherited £200 million from his father and was expelled from Eton for possessing cannabis.
So. Yeah. Different. Let’s see how this plays out.
Now you’re decoded on the London Mayor and the new candidates you can join the debate. If you don’t live in London, call up a mate who does and lecture them on devolution, cos YOLO. For those who live in London you can vote in the actual mayoral election as long as your are over 18 on the day of the election in May 2016 and can register to vote.
Registering to vote takes about 5 minutes – do it here.
#piggate: a newly published book claims that prime minister David Cameron took part in a rather… unusual university society initiation. Involving a dead pig.
A former donor to the Conservative Party has released a book detailing his feud with current prime minister David Cameron.
The Daily Mail describes the book’s claim that Mr. Cameron once ‘put a private part of his anatomy’ into a dead pig. Yes, you heard us right. This was allegedly part of a university society initiation whilst Cameron was at Oxford.
It’s worth noting at this point that nothing has been proved, though it’s claimed that a picture exists of the… event. David Cameron is infamously coy about his time at university. He was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club, an all-male exclusive dining club, famous for it’s heavy drinking and the vandalising of restaurants.
So far Number 10 Downing Street are refusing to dignify the claim with a comment. Which is fair enough as, for the second time, there is no proof.
Unfortunately that didn’t stop the internet from going into meltdown. Here’s what we learned:
Make that several jokes. Several jokes and even more pictures. #piggate quickly went viral, followed by #hameron and #snoutrage.
Here are some of the best posts;
No comment: pic.twitter.com/6IEX3gM2CL
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) September 20, 2015
— Henry Legg (@PhysicsHenry) September 21, 2015
Many recalled an episode of TV show “Black Mirror” where a similar event involving a prime minister and a pig takes place;
Shit. Turns out Black Mirror is a documentary series.
— Charlie Brooker (@charltonbrooker) September 20, 2015
— Lianna Brinded (@LiannaBrinded) September 21, 2015
They mocked David Cameron’s tweet about the Labour Party;
Whereas some hammed it up;
Despite the online frenzy some UK media outlets didn’t quite know how to report this.
The Drum earned maximum punning points by noting how several media outlets seemed “hamstrung”. He he he.
The Drum noted that though Sky News were “traditionally bolder” than the BBC or ITN the #piggate story was “strikingly omitted from the regular newspaper review.”
BBC trending, the online section of the BBC which reports on trending viral stories is yet to publish a #piggate story. The Independent slammed this as “unnacceptable”.
— Joel Davidge (@joeldavidge) September 21, 2015
It is odd that several TV and radio channels are mysteriously forgetting to mention the supposed pig initiation. Is this on the grounds of decency or are they worried of the repercussions?
Talk about working under pressure; within hours of the story breaking CassetteBoy trottered (sorry) out this beauty;
Harsh or not, you have to admit this video is pretty clever.
Yes, the Twitter jokes were funny but eventually people realised they might be focusing on the wrong topic;
— Nerina Pallot (@ladychatterley) September 21, 2015
Then there was the issue about how political parties are funded;
Shouldn't the bigger scandal be that the Tories have been bank rolled by tax dodgers like Ashcroft for years? #PigGate
— UK Uncut (@UKuncut) September 21, 2015
People often moan about politics. We say it’s out of touch with reality and that politicians don’t care about ordinary people. Yet today, people were much more likely to share photocopied #piggate images of David Cameron than the news that free school meals may be scrapped.
Just some (not pig) food for thought.
Before the 2015 general election Ed Miliband was ridiculed for a picture taken of him eating a bacon sandwich.
In fairness, you can see why;
Ed can now relax knowing that he’ll no longer be the only one in pork-litical history (sorry, we had to) to be remembered for his connection to pigs.
That’ll do, Ed. That’ll do.